Paying Your National Insurance From Abroad

Living and working abroad means you are no longer a UK resident; thus, in most circumstances, you are not obliged to pay UK National Insurance. But here’s why you should.

Continuing to pay into your UK National Insurance Contributions (NICs) whilst working abroad could entitle you to the many benefits, such as State Pension, Employment, Support Allowance and bereavement benefits. Without it, you will lose access to these benefits both now and for the future.

The State Pension is a valuable part of your retirement planning, providing regular income from the UK Government for those who have reached State Pension age. With qualifying years of contribution, you are currently looking at earning £168.60 per week upon retirement age. With relative ease of contributing, there is no reason not to be doing so whilst you are working overseas.

Why You Should Act Now

As of the 6th April 2016, you need at least 10 years of NIC contributions to qualify at all for the State Pension (previously only one year), and at least 35 years of contributions to receive the full pension (previously only 30 for retirees). Any years in between reduces the amount accordingly. Those entering the National Insurance system after this date will need the whole 35 years’ worth of qualifying credits upon reaching State Pension age to receive the full State Pension. Those who have made contributions before the 6th April 2016 will have their years transitioned.

You do the math — a typical working life between 20 and 60 doesn’t leave much room to meet the 35 years requirement, especially if you are living abroad as this will create “gaps” in your record. These gaps can mean you lose out on a lot of money in the future. Incidentally, with increased life expectancy, the government has announced plans to change that the State Pension age to 68 between 2037 and 2039

For most of you, it is likely that you will need to voluntarily pay towards your NIC contributions from abroad in order to receive the benefits. Regardless of your time abroad, it is best to act as soon as possible. For those that have been abroad a few years already, you can usually plug up the gaps in your record by paying voluntary contributions for the past 6 years.

What To Do Next

Depending on your circumstance, you could be paying as little as £2.85 per week — though, as the saying goes, a little goes a long way, and in the case of National Insurance Contributions this can certainly go a long way for your finances.

Of course, everyone’s circumstance and future is different. So, as always, that’s why we’re here to help. Please contact your adviser to see what it might mean for you and how you can contribute to your National Insurance whilst working abroad.


To pay voluntary conditions, you must satisfy the following conditions:

  • You must have lived in the UK for a continuous 3 year period at any time before the period in which the NICs were due to be paid. (If you have lived or worked in another EEA country or in Turkey, time spent there might help you to meet this condition)
  • Before you went abroad, you must have paid a set amount of NICs for 3 years or more (amounts detailed below):
    – Two qualifying years and 52 NICs (of any Class) paid before 6 April 1975
    – One qualifying year and 104 NICs (of any Class) paid before 6 April 1975
    – Paid 156 NICs (of any Class) before 6 April 1975
    – Paid sufficient NICs Qualifying Earnings Factors for three years since 6 April 1975

if you’re looking for some friendly advice or for help with your savings & investments, drop me an email at thomas(at) 

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